Bite-size Review: Tram 83 | Fiston Mwanza Mujila


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Tram 83 | Fiston Mwanza Mujila


A pulsating literary score, with a ragbag of plucky characters. In Tram 83 we meet, an ensemble of courtesans, a bevy of thrill seekers, a throng of gangsters and racketeers, all mired in the bleating hustle of survival. Out of this gritty melting pot of degenerates, emerges Lucien, a struggling writer obstinately bent on creating his masterpiece- a locomotive novel. This as his raison de vivre, he succumbs not to the seduction of his world or the ploys of his friend Requiem, who is set to foil his efforts. Between Lucien and Requiem lies furtive chasm of hate, jealousy and retribution. Fiston Mwanza Mujila, composes into his rhythmic prose a jivey action and vibrant elegiac riffs. Capturing the reverberations and colourful mosaic of life in Congo’s underbelly, Tram 83 is a tour de force imbued with the spirit of its age. Though originally written in French, Roland Glasser’s superb translation makes an excellent mouthpiece.

• Winner of the English PEN award 2015


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